Jump to content
  • Deals
  • Find a Cruise
  • Reviews
  • News
  • Cruise Tips

From Cool Alaska to the Balmy South Pacific, Sail with Bill & Mary Ann on the Volendam 9-6-23 to11-22-23 77 days


Recommended Posts

Report #75     Saturday  November 18, 2023    Sea Day Enroute To San Diego, California, USA    Sunny And Windy 82 Degrees 19mph Wind  Sea State: Rough 12' Swell  Part #1 Of 1........56 Pictures--Casual Dress


Day number three at sea turned out to be another busy day.  We did try to keep our breakfast on the lighter side, but that is not always possible.  It’s the healthiest meal of the day for us, and missing out on fresh berries with Greek yogurt would not be our choice.  Every day now, they are baking blueberry-filled muffins just for us, so we cannot turn them down.  And that is why we never eat lunch until 2 or 3pm.  Some days, we have gone without lunch, so we are hungry for dinner. 


The reason for the light breakfast was an invite we got a few days ago for the Mariner Recognition Event, the first one of two, held in the lower dining room at 11:30am.  This was done way different from what we have attended on most past cruises.  Usually, there is a medallion awarding in another area, such as  in the World Stage (grand voyages), the Explorer’s Lounge or the Rolling Stones Lounge on the Zuiderdam.  Only the reward recipients and most times their spouses are invited with the highest number of sea day guests, such as the President’s Club members.   Today that included the silver, gold, and platinum people that were getting their medallions as well as all of the guests that have already achieved that status.  We estimate that about half of the passengers had been invited to this affair.  This was held in the center of the lower dining room with the silver medallion guests being singled out and standing for all to see.  Honestly, they should have called them up for their medals and photos with the Captain and Glenn, the hotel manager. 


Moving forward, the gold and platinum folks went up one or two at a time to receive their medals and photos.  Finally, the seven of us President’s Club members were singled out and recognized with our number of days we had achieved with this last cruise.  Photos were taken as well.  We felt it strange that the tables of the newly “medaled” guests had a host joining them.  That would be Kimberly, the hotel director, and the Captain.  There may have been more officers that we did not see.  We have always had a host with our group, but today, we did not have anyone.  We think the problem was that one of the members had brought another guest with them, and the seat meant for an officer was gone.  In our way of thinking, they should have given us a larger table especially if they knew we had eight people instead of seven.   That oversight was mentioned to the Captain and Glenn after most of the guests had left the room.  We really did not get a straight explanation of that either.  Just a roll of the eyes from the Captain, acknowledging the oversight.


Anyway, the lunch consisted of a choice of three starters of lobster with veggies, a pear salad, or a soup.  The mains were a choice of filet mignon, a fish, and a vegetarian dish.  We had the steak and it was delicious.  Wish we had lightened up on breakfast, as we could not finish everything.   Sparkling wine had been poured for the general toast, then if we wished, we could have ordered wine, as two of the guests did at our table.  One of our guests asked for more champagne, but a sweet white wine was poured instead.  Yuck….we still do not prefer wine.  Water is better.  Dessert was served which looked like two brownies with a sliver of a strawberry and a chunk of brittle.  A small piece of candied popcorn was in the center.  Coffee was offered, but by then, two of our tablemates departed.  That’s when our fun began and the conversation flowed until almost 3pm.  By that time, we looked around and the waiters were done and the surrounding tables were already set for dinner.  By the way, there were no HAL tiles handed out, because we think they do not have any onboard.  There was no mention of it, so we will have to inquire about that tomorrow. 


The remainder of the passengers will have the same event tomorrow afternoon.  That should include the one and two star Mariners, which must be half of the guests onboard. 


Since the temperature was in the low 80’s, we went to the Seaview Pool to relax in the sun for a while.  There were scattered clouds and we noticed that the humidity was only at 75%.  With 20mph winds blowing across the decks from the northeast, the heat was tolerable.  The seas had become rougher we thought with swells up to 12 feet.  We are pitching and rolling noticeably much more than yesterday.  Sadly, there was no sign of the booby that had been tagging along. 


Sitting on our veranda, we actually got chilled after the sun went down.  It was another nice sunset, but nothing like last night’s.  As we travel further north, we expect it to get cooler every day.


Dinner was in the dining room with a good hot soup of baked potato and cheddar cheese.  One of us had the veal tataki, and both of us had the small salad.  Mains were the prime rib plate with a small baked potato and beans with carrots.  Looked pretty….tasted good.  Dessert was an apple tart right out the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Perfect.  Three alternates for dinner this evening were the Canaletto, the Tamarind pop-up for $35 in the Pinnacle Grill and a Seafood Boil in the Lido for $35 as well.  For that reason, the dining room was not crowded tonight.


Entertainment in the show lounge was the women of Gravity, a singing group back on the stage with an all new show.  Gosh, we never saw the first one.  Hard to burn the candle at both ends.  Tomorrow we have to seriously begin to pack.  Hate to wait until the last minute.  Oh yeah, the clocks went forward for that final hour.  Now we are on “home” time for us. 


Bill & Mary Ann




  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Report #76   Sunday  November 19, 2023    Day At Sea Enroute To San Diego, California USA   Rain Showers Clearing In The Afternoon To Clouds And Sun  20mph Winds  12' Swell  Part #1 Of 1.........65 Pictures---Casual Dress


For the very first time on this extended cruise, we over-slept and arrived late to the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast.  Not by a lot, but enough the manager, Anton, was concerned.  We have not missed one single morning there, and he knew we would arrive.  Nice to know someone was watching for us, better yet that no one insisted on sitting at “our” table.  Some people are funny that way if they see an opportunity. 


Taking a walk outside after breakfast, we got right in the middle of a mandatory crew drill, so we finished our mile or so, and ducked back inside.  We had things to do.


Day four at sea had arrived and we needed to begin packing.  Of course, it was only half of what we usually bring on a 128 day voyage, but still time-consuming.  We kept a list for one of the suitcases that will not have to be re-packed for the next trip.  Then we continued to do the second piece of luggage because we had plenty of time, since it was not going to be a day to spend outside.  By the way, the weather was terrible with winds at 23 knots, misty fog blowing over the decks, and close to 12 foot swells.  We felt as if we were being told it was time to go home.    The only thing that was OK was the temperature which was about 77 degrees.  The humidity was another story as it measured at 90 %.  Sticky but warm. 


Weighing each piece of luggage, we came up with 48 pounds each, and we had already filled most of the third bag.  There was still one more left, and we could not figure out how we could have that much room left.  With the ship pitching so much as well as rolling, we may not be able to trust the hand-scale.   Hopefully, these conditions improve as we travel north towards San Diego, then we can weigh them once again.  We also think there is a digital scale in the area of the front desk for the folks to use.  Whether it is accurate is something we do not know. 


Taking a break, we went up to the Seaview Pool to find one man snorkeling with fins and lashed onto a ladder.  Guess we are never here at 3pm, because we bet he does this every sea day.  There was another couple who came up to swim.  But when they put their robes and shoes on a lounge, they blew away.  No wonder all of the chairs and umbrellas were stacked and tied down.  Sitting on the opposite side of the smokers, we lasted for a while at a table which was out of the wind.  One of the deck crew came over and offered us ice water, but we declined, thanking him.  He had few customers today. 


Relaxing on our veranda, while waiting for the sun to go down, not expecting much due to the overcast skies that had persisted all day.  However, we were happy to see some blue skies appear with some higher interesting clouds like two nights ago.  It wasn’t the best sunset we have witnessed, but OK in our books.  We will miss seeing this when we get home, as the mountain where we live, block the sunsets. 


Yesterday, we had received another invite (the third one) for a tour of the Volendam Bridge.  Of course, we will not attend but it was nice to be included.  As Captain Paul promised, he extended this invite for everyone on the ship.   In addition to that, we had another invitation for an engine room tour tomorrow at 1pm.  We suspect it will be our small group of seven President’s Club members, but we may be wrong.  We will make it a point to attend this one.  Finally, one of the front desk fellows came to our door before dinner and handed us tiles from this 56 day cruise, as well as a photo that was taken at the Mariner Event yesterday.  Nice touch.


Dinner in the dining room was special since it was Dutch-themed for The Orange Party that would take place at 8pm in the Lido Pool area.  Of course, we would miss it because we prefer to eat at the same time and place most every day.   So the menu was written in Dutch, with English explanations.  We had three appetizers, mostly to see what they actually were.  The shrimp cocktail was good, resembling the small shrimp one they have occasionally.  The corn fritter turned out to be a Dutch version which looked like a pancake.  Not only looked like, but was a pancake with corn in it covered with a sweet and sour sauce giving them a spicy taste.  Not bad at all.  The pea soup was the closest we have had to Dutch pea soup that was served while we were in Alaska.  Also very good – stick to the ribs thick.  Our entrees were different.  One of us tried the Club Orange special of the day which was shrimp linguine, looking good on that blue plate.  And the other main was the Indonesian bami goreng with noodles and satay chicken skewers.  Also very tasty.  Having a bit of room left, we both enjoyed the boschbals(sp?)  with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  Expecting a small version of this éclair-like dessert, they came larger than we anticipated, but we were able to polish them off.  Really good…..


Got to catch up on sleep that we lost due to the hour ahead last night.  Changing the clocks three times in this last week has made a difference  .Just takes time to adjust. 


Bill & Mary Ann



  • Like 9
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once again I have enjoyed following your adventures.  I agree with the previous post about Captain Paul. He sounds like he really enjoys interacting with the guests.  I, too hope to sail with him one day.


Barb says Hi.


Enjoy the holidays and I will look forward to your GWV.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Report #77  Monday  November 20, 2023  Day At Sea Enroute To San Diego, California USA   Cloudy With Periods Of Sun  Cooler 75 Degrees  20mph Winds 9' Swells  Part #1 Of 1.......43 Pictures---Dressy Night


Today was day 5 on our long journey towards San Diego.   It was noticeably cooler today, but what we noticed first was the fact that the high humidity was missing.  Not that we’re complaining, but we sure do miss the heat from the sun.


After breakfast and our morning walk, we headed back to the room with the intentions of packing more.  Somehow we got distracted with phone calls which we can make from our computer.  Took us a while to figure it out, but once it worked well, we made some family calls and also calls to check our air plans for Wednesday.  Since the world voyage is approaching quickly, we needed to contact the luggage shipping company and arrange to have our bags picked up at our home.  Also there was a deadline on that call, we decided to do it from the ship to get the ball rolling.  We had a credit with the company from previous problems with the 2023 GWV, so it helped to keep costs down.  We do get some luggage sent complimentary as well.  We have learned to live with a lot less than previous years.  Having complimentary laundry service really makes a difference in the amount of stuff you have to bring.   


At 1pm, we were invited with five other President’s Club members to a tour of the Volendam’s engine control room.  All of us were present at the meeting point at the front desk.  The chief engineer directed us to deck A where we followed him through the swinging doors of the unseen working deck of the ship.  We entered the door of the control room, and stayed behind the area where all of the instruments were located.  Once again, there were a series of panels, gauges, lights, and TV screens where cameras provide the controllers continuous photos of every area of the ship’s engines and everything that makes it run smoothly.  


Of course, we all had some questions, especially our friend Bill, who is a retired pilot from the Air Force as well as a commercial pilot.  Most of the questions regarded the fact that this ship is considered “old” compared to the newer vessels these days.  Things have changed quite a bit since the early days.  Some for the good, most of the time.  Anyway, the chief engineer spoke about a recent problem in the laundry room, where one of the huge dryers stalled and started a brief fire.  We had read that story on one of the blog sites, but never knew it had happened here for real.  It did not sound as dramatic as the news made out, but still could have been problematic had it not been detected and fixed immediately.  Perhaps it did cause some smoke, but there may have not been a fire like we know and see fires on TV news.


We did take some time to catch the sun at the Seaview Pool when it appeared between the drifting clouds.  Today’s temperature was recorded at 68 degrees, a far cry from the 80’s we have been having.  The wind was still strong, but the currents we seemed to be fighting have subsided.  The end result is that the ship was not pitching like it was.   That sure it is big help when it comes to packing in the staterooms.   We figured by 4pm, we would have some sun on the veranda, and headed back there for the remainder of the afternoon.  The sun was setting earlier this evening, and by the time it went past the horizon, the skies were almost clear.  Still there was no green flash.


Tonight’s dinner was in the Pinnacle Grill, our final one for this 56 day cruise.  We had a drink voucher given to us by the previous Captain Whitaker and hotel director, Francois.  We almost forgot we had it, since we seldom have cocktails before dinner.  So Evelyn took care of that and had two drinks brought to our table.   Our meal was the “usual” wedge salads, clothes line bacon, warm rolls, and extra salad dressings.   Both of us had the filet mignon and skinny fries (that term always cracks us up).  The food and the plates were so hot, just the way we like it.  Desserts were orange sorbet and a chocolate souffle.  It had been another busy night for this venue, since many folks had waited until the final days to make reservations here.  Lucky for us, the majority of guests dined earlier. 


As far as we know, there are no more events happening tomorrow, so it will be time to finish the packing.  So far, so good.


Bill & Mary Ann



  • Like 7
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Report #78  Tuesday  November 21, 2023  Last Sea Day Enroute To San Diego California, USA    Sunny And Warmer 68 Degrees  30mph Winds 9'-12' Swell  Part #1 Of 1 ........75 Pictures


Well, all good things have to come to and end, and this series of cruises is one of them.  We still are fascinated at how quickly the time flies while we are on these trips.  All of our cruise friends totally agree. 


A few days ago, we got the notices concerning disembarkation on Wednesday.  The first letter came from the hotel general manager, Glenn, who reminded the folks that taking the self-assist option for leaving was best for those with flights before 1pm.  That way you would not need to locate your tagged luggage in the San Diego cruise terminal, which is always mixed with hundreds of bags that look the same.  Of course, you must be able to handle all of your luggage hauling it from your room all the way to the exit and the customs check.   When we watched the folks getting off the ship after a 7 day Alaska cruise, many of them packed so lightly, all they had was carry-ons.  This is different because everyone had at least 51 days of stuff to bring.   So their time to get off will be between 8 and 9:30am.


The other options for debarking included having all of your bags outside the rooms before midnight, which would show up tomorrow in the terminal, arranged by color-coded tags.  The colors are brown, green, and red 1, 2, and 3.  The approximate time to begin leaving would be after 8am with the final call by 9:15am more or less. 


Club Orange, President’s Club, and 4 & 5 Star Mariners received a package with blue tags, and we have the option of exiting any time between 8:00am and 9:30am.  And that will include us.  The HAL bus transfer was available for those who wished to be driven to the San Diego Airport or if their flight was later in the late afternoon, they offered a tour with a transfer to the airport as well.  We believe the cost for the transfer only was $29 per person.  We intend to take a taxi as the airport is only 3 miles away from the cruise terminal. 


By the way, no final statements are delivered to the rooms anymore.  If you wish to have a copy, it is best to visit the front desk, and they will print you one.  We did that this morning, and asked for the last page only.  We realized that we had some credit left to spend, and would do that later in the day.  Of course, if you owed any money on your registered credit card, it would automatically be billed.  And for the guest’s convenience, the Navigator App will have access to your account when you return home.


All we need to have to get off is our room key, a luggage tag stub, and our passport to show when we pass by the Customs and Border Protection Inspection officers.  And don’t bring any organic products off of the ship or you are in trouble.


We thought we had the majority of our stuff packed, but the rest took us all morning.  We did good, however, not exceeding the weight on all of the bags, depending on if our scale is still accurate.  Since the sun was out and the temperature was in the low 70’s, we headed up to the Seaview Pool to relax for a while.  There were even folks still sunbathing even though it was very windy, this was their last chance to get that suntan. 


Our good buddies did the same thing coming out for some fresh air, and joined us for a while.  We’re all sad to see the trip end, but with the holidays are around the corner, and we shall be busy as bees quite soon.   Captain Paul came on the speakers for his noon talk.  He extended many thanks to the crew and the guests equally as he was quite proud to have been on this particular cruise.  Sounds to us like it has been a long time since he has visited the South Pacific, even admitting some of our ports were new to him.   And he expressed his thanks with three toots of the ship’s horn.  Very funny, as we have never heard that before on all of the cruises we have been on over the years. 


The day was full of promotions, as you might expect, especially in the Shops.  Some of us even received a personal call from the front desk girls reminding us that we had credit to spend.  That’s nice because it was “use it or lose it” money.  Checking out every shop on the ship, we came up with no ideas.  So we decided to order cocktails at the dinner table, which would use up the money fast. 


Then we had to drink a bottle of champagne (really sparkling wine) and the best time for that was during the sunset.  The afternoon clouds had cleared up and we actually had a decent sunset after 5pm.  Maybe it looked even better due to the several glasses of the bubbly.


Dinner was in the dining room with a regular menu.  We had been expecting the Culinary menu like we had at the end of every Alaska trip.  But tonight, we had a different menu with many nice choices.  We did have those cocktails, then ordered a shrimp and artichoke dip with a bread stick.  It was hot and really tasty.  One of us had the cabbage bacon soup, and the other preferred the Caesar salad – hold the anchovies.  Mains were the chicken cordon bleu with potatoes and peas.  Simple and quite good.  After our desserts of a lemon meringue cheesecake, friends Leta and Bill strolled over to say goodbye.  Unfortunately, they will not be on the world cruise, but are going to Japan next year.   The grand trips have become too long for them, so they like shorter ones that leave from Seattle or Vancouver because they live near there.  We will miss them.  On the way out, we said our goodbyes to our good buddies that we will see at lunch sometime in December.  When we are all at home and not cruising, we make it a point to meet at least once a month.  Before dinner, Rosie and Randy came over to give us hugs as well.  Hopefully they will be on another cruise like this and we will meet again. Nice kids.  We will all keep in touch via the internet or the mail.


Back in our room, we spotted some luggage out in the hall, and we needed to do the same thing.  Checking tags and locks, it took two minutes and the job was done.  Breakfast is at 6:30am tomorrow in the Pinnacle Grill, so it is early to bed for us.   By this time tomorrow, we shall be home if the traffic is not horrible.  It is hard to predict because it is a Wednesday that many people take off for the long holiday weekend.  That might be our only savior for not getting in the middle of commute traffic.


Thanks for tagging along. Once again, it has been a pleasure.


Bil & Mary Ann



  • Like 9
  • Thanks 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Thank you for again taking us along. I really enjoyed your posts and all the info you describe about the ports.  

   Until the next time.  Safe travels home and have a safe and healthy holiday season.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been a silent reader of all your trips!  I really enjoy your journeys.  

Would you be willing to share your packing method?  How many suitcases do you take?  Do you tend to overpack or underpack?  Did you find you needed everything you brought ? 

Just curious?  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have really enjoyed tagging along on your adventures to the South Pacific. Some of these islands I have never heard of before. Thanks for sharing all the photos as well. I will be looking forward to following along on your next adventure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dave and I aren't going on the WC this year....but will be following along with great envy (at least on my part).  I enjoyed your blog from this trip and look forward to the next!


Safe trip home and hope you can pop back on just to let us all know you're back home.


Linda R.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the wonderful travelog and ship observations. Since 1988 we have exclusively sailed holland america starting on the Rotterdam V. We were still working until recently (Covid) and still have not gotten back. I am especially envious of you. Can't wait for the World Cruise.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Greetings to all readers,


Thank you for your kind remarks.  We did arrive home safely, but have so much to do before the next voyage, it is almost overwhelming.   Scheduled routine appointments will take up half of that time.


We do not have any particular packing method because each piece of luggage can only weigh 50#, and be airline size.  On a longer cruise such as the world voyage, we will have 8 pieces of luggage to be shipped.  These days we do not over-pack, but tend to cut back.  You can really get tired wearing the same stuff unless you bring at least two weeks of daytime and dinner time clothing.  It is more important to us to bring all of the toiletries including meds, as we do not wish to waste our time looking for something as simple as familiar pain meds or even toothpaste.   


Linda and Dave:  We will miss you guys. 


Wishing everyone Happy Holidays!


Bill & Mary Ann 

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Welcome to Cruise Critic
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: Explore 5 Unique Destinations With All-inclusive Pricing
      • Holiday Exchange - Jingle and Mingle 2023
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Cruise Critic News & Features
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...